Arizona among nation’s high rollers in tribal gaming

Arizona tribal gaming has the fifth highest economic impact of all states in the United States, according to an American Gaming Association report.

The state falls behind only California, Florida, Oklahoma, and Washington in tribal gaming economic impact. According to the report, Arizona’s 25 Native American gaming facilities have generated roughly $4.7 billion in sales, $691 million in tax revenue, and 38,000 jobs for the state in 2016.

Arizona is one of 28 states to support tribal gaming, which has grown exponentially in the past thirty years. Tribal gaming started as a $121 million industry following the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988, and it is now a $32 billion industry which supports over 675,000 jobs.

“Tribal gaming operators are present in 28 states and create nearly half of all U.S. gaming revenue,” explains Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association. “This report details the widespread economic impact that tribal casinos have in states across the country, providing diverse career opportunities, supporting local businesses and generating tax revenue and revenue share payments for all levels of government.”

Since the passage of the Arizona Benefits Fund in 2004, tribal casinos have contributed over $1.2 billion to state resources and organizations, including the Trauma & Emergency Services Fund, AZ Wildlife Conservation Fund, State Tourism Fund, and more. Further, this does not include the $163 million in contributions to cities, towns, and counties. Overall, tribal gaming has directly distributed $1.45 billion in funds to the state, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming.

Following a two percent year-over-year increase in quarter two contributions, director of Arizona Department of Gaming Daniel Bergin stated in a press conference, “We are pleased to see continued growth in tribal gaming contributions for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2019. This seventh consecutive quarter of growth is a strong reflection of our state’s healthy economy.”

Part of Arizona’s leadership in tribal gaming stems from the annual Arizona Indian Gaming Association Expo, which attracts leaders in tribal gaming from across the nation. The 2018 Expo last month featured a golf tournament, discussion forums, business leadership luncheons, art showcases, and more. The conference’s myriad events and accommodations have made it one of the most prominent Native American gaming conferences in the Southwest.

As Arizona’s tribal casinos continue to succeed, so will its other programs and organizations. Native American gaming has created a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship with the state and will continue to do so for years to come.

Ben Norman

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